I have a question about the use of cosmetic bonding. I feel sick that I might have just made a horrible mistake. My son is 16 and just got his braces off. Much to my surprise, when they took off the braces, he had a huge white spot on one of his front teeth. The doctor said it was because my son didn’t do a good job brushing his teeth, but the weird thing is, he checked him out just a few weeks ago and said everything looked good. Now this. Anyway, they told me the only way I could fix it is if we had a crown done. I went ahead and gave them half of the money down to do it and I have to pay the rest in full before the appointment next week. At first, I was so mad at my son for not taking care of his teeth that I didn’t question anything. Now that I’ve calmed down a bit and I’m trying to figure out how to come up with the rest of the money, which I really don’t have unless I don’t pay some of my bills, I’m starting to wonder if something isn’t right here. Does my son really need to have this crown done or could something like cosmetic bonding have saved his tooth? I’m betting it’s less expensive and it doesn’t seem nearly as invasive.
You’re correct. Something isn’t right about your story. White spots like that are generally considered the precursor to cavities. They’re spots where the minerals have left the tooth, and that usually comes about by not taking good care of your teeth. However, it’s a gradual thing. It doesn’t appear overnight or in the course of a month even, although it can certainly grow and get whiter during that period, but you’re not going to have a flawless tooth one day and then a month later have a massive white spot. So, it’s likely they didn’t see it forming. It’s doubtful they could have done much after the fact, aside from prescribing some kind of fluoride to help make sure it doesn’t grow.
You haven’t supplied any photos or x-rays, but a crown for something like this would generally be overkill. Although the white spot indicates the tooth is vulnerable to decay, it doesn’t mean it has a cavity. Moreover, it’s probably localized and not deep, which means taking away significant tooth structure all around a whole tooth to add a crown to deal with a surface spot would be way too much.
There are some schools of thought that suggest teeth can be remineralized over time, with a healthy diet, fluoride, and good home care. You may see some of the white diminish with these, but it’s likely a permanent mark that would need some kind of treatment. Sometimes, dentists can smooth them away a bit. Other times, you would need something like cosmetic bonding done to cover the space and repair the tooth. Don’t get the crown, though. Get a second opinion from another dentist- ideally someone who is skilled with cosmetic dentistry.
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